CONGRATULATIONS to the Milwaukee Bucks for ending a 50-year drought and becoming this season’s NBA Champions.
Led by Giannis’ mind-boggling 50-point performance, the Bucks became just the fifth team to climb from a 0-2 deficit in the Finals and become the champions by winning four straight games.
Well, 50 (pts) for 50 (years) is basically one point for each year they waited. Fittingly, Giannis was the NBA Finals MVP.
PERSPECTIVE. For a while there after that potentially season-ending injury for Giannis, I thought this was going to the year of the Suns. And I say that not because I truly believe their team was the best or was superior to the Bucks but because of the way fate seemed to pave the way for their somewhat seamless entry to the Finals.
Consider how the Lakers blew a 2-0 lead in the first round after Anthony Davis succumbed to injuries. And in the second round, the Suns swept a Denver Nuggets team without their most potent offensive threat -- Jamal Murray.
Then in the Western Conference Finals, they defeated a tough and gritty Los Angeles Clippers team sans their best player -- Kawhi Leonard. You could look no further than that lucky alley-oop play in Game 2 with almost no time left after Paul George uncharacteristically missed two free throws as seemingly damning proof of how the stars seemed to align themselves for the Suns to keep on advancing.
Alas, it was not meant to be and the Bucks were just too good and too big and too much for the Suns when it finally mattered the most.
To put things in perspective, this season will probably be remembered as the one where the healthiest teams advanced to the Finals. I sincerely doubt the Bucks would have made it had the Nets been healthy and ditto for the Suns for the reasons advanced above.
But not to take anything away from these teams, injuries are a part of the game and that’s that.
GIANNIS. The two-time regular season MVP finally added another feather on his cap with the MVP Finals award and he also joins an elite tier of players composed of only three, to win both MVP awards and also covet a defensive player of the year award in their careers. The other two are Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.
Indeed, that’s one reason to fear the deer.
In a game which was close up until the final quarter, Giannis silenced all critics by coming up huge in a department perceived to be his weakness -- free throw shooting.
He shot 17-19 from the line and his 50 points tied Bob Pettit’s way back in 1958 for the most in a finals clinching win.
SUNS. As for the Suns, this season was also a revelation for them and also an affirmation of how great Chris Paul is.
A true point guard who can do it all, he elevated this team and made it play to its true potential.
However, I think they just were outgunned as the Bucks had too much firepower with Giannis, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday whom they acquired this season.
I was never too high on Devin Booker and was quite surprised with how they were already prematurely adorning him as the next NBA superstar, even comparing him to the likes of Kobe Bryant which to me was sacrilegious.
Booker is talented but inconsistent. He is just as capable of turning in a dud as he is of a 40 point performance. Deandre Ayton is a freak of nature but lacks experience. Paul also showed his age especially in this series and so it all came down to manpower and talent.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my cousin Grace Ybanez-Olfert, who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!